New research indicates viewers who use digital video recorders to watch their favorite broadcast TV shows tend to watch shows recorded between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. -- and many of them appear to be skipping 10 p.m. telecasts altogether.
TiVo Inc. said last week that according to its latest analysis of programs seen on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, shows in the 9 p.m. hour were the most likely to be watched on a DVR at a later time during February, with 59 percent of viewers opting for such "timeshifting." About 58 percent of viewers timeshifted shows that aired in the 8 p.m. hour.
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At 10 p.m., there was a drop-off in DVR viewership, with 53 percent recording shows seen in that time slot, and 47 percent opting to watch live.
TiVo's study also found about 30 percent of shows recorded on a DVR was watched within an hour of the program's live airing.
That development is hurting shows in the 10 p.m. time slot, says Todd Juenger, vice president and general manager of TiVo's audience research and measurement department. "Much of the timeshifted viewing from the 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. airings stomps out the audience that would historically watch 10 p.m. programming in live mode," Juenger explained. "...While some viewers will record programs aired at 10 p.m. for viewing later in the week, many are abandoning that hour of television altogether."
News that 10 p.m. shows are being pushed aside could be particularly distressing for NBC, which has given comedian Jay Leno that slot five nights a week starting next fall in a plan that has met with widespread skepticism.
TiVo is best known for its pioneering role in the development of the digital video recorder, which allows viewers to pause, rewind, play back or instantly replay any broadcast by recording it onto a computer hard drive.
The company's StopWatch service gets its data from a daily, anonymous, stratified random sample of 100,000 TiVo units -- from which a second-by-second "clickstream" of behavior and viewership is collected and assessed.
StopWatch has been available since February 2007, and has data going back to September 2006.
In recent years, advertisers and television executives have worried viewers would be unlikely to sit through commercials in a DVR environment, since the device makes it easy to fast-forward past the ads.
However, data shows that some members of the audience do pause, even while skipping, to watch some commercials, and the industry is anxious to find out why.
Among the commercials least likely to be fast-forwarded during TiVo's February study were ads from Monster.com, E-Trade, and a number of foreign automakers including Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Lexus and Nissan.
Juenger said while it's not surprising that viewers would want to see ads about job opportunities and financial advice during a severe economic downturn, he had not expected the increased interest in foreign cars at a time when car sales are down in the U.S.
"Perhaps consumers are keeping a careful eye out for special deals, or maybe the dearth of advertising from the Big Three auto manufacturers is making these other car ads stand-out?"
General Motors, Ford and Chrysler have severely curtailed their ad spending in the past year.
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